“Finding a Space for Me Outside the Stereotypes”: Community Engagement in Policy and Research to Foster Canadian Racialised Immigrant Women’s Mental Health and Well-Being

  • Judith A. MacDonnellEmail author
  • Mahdieh Dastjerdi
  • Nimo Bokore
  • Wangari Tharao
  • Nazilla Khanlou
  • Wairimu Njoroge
Original Article


Racialised immigrant women face many challenges with resettlement with potential impacts on their mental health and well-being. Recent community-based research (CBR) and associated knowledge translation/exchange (KTE) activities with racialised immigrant women in Toronto, Canada, suggest that activism can promote their mental health and well-being. In this paper, the researchers describe community engagement processes in the CBR that included a stakeholder Think Tank with communities, researchers and service providers in settlement and mental health sectors to create an action plan based on the research. Using a feminist post-colonial lens to analyse the Think Tank data yielded research, policy and program strategies aligned with principles such as building on individuals’ and communities’ strengths and foregrounding gender and racialisation in strategies that can enhance racialised immigrant women’s capacities to take action and overcome barriers. Research, policy and program implications for comprehensive strategies that support health equity, thereby promoting their mental health and well-being, are considered.


Immigrant women Community-based research Activism Policy Program Mental health promotion Gender Racialisation 



We appreciate the support of Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre and the contributions of Racquel Bremmer and Wairumu Njoroge and the many community members and other stakeholders who contributed to this action plan. We also thank Muna Aden, Maryam Khan, Ana Mateus, Shaista Durrani, Nyla Khan and Sharmin Atker for their contributions to the Knowledge Translation event. We thank the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Gender and Health for their funding of this event and associated knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) activities.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith A. MacDonnell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mahdieh Dastjerdi
    • 1
  • Nimo Bokore
    • 2
  • Wangari Tharao
    • 3
  • Nazilla Khanlou
    • 1
  • Wairimu Njoroge
    • 4
  1. 1.School of NursingYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Carleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health CentreTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Centre for Addictions and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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